21 April 2009

Canada's Grant family

Yes, after more than two decades, I still have my Canadian politics students reading George Parkin Grant's Lament for a Nation. It's not that I agree entirely with his argument. In fact, I think he severely shortchanges Canada's political institutions, as I wrote here five years ago: George Grant and the Primacy of Economics. Nevertheless, his views are worth taking seriously and grappling with.

It just so happens that Grant's nephew is the leader of the federal Liberal Party, a certain Michael Ignatieff, who has just published a book on his maternal ancestors, True Patriot Love: Four Generations in Search of Canada, an excerpt of which is published in Maclean's: Nation in progress. Robert Fulford thinks, not unreasonably, that Ignatieff is repackaging himself for the voters in this book: Ignatieff gives a shake to the family tree. Writing for Maclean's, John Geddes praises the book, perhaps too obsequiously: Michael Ignatieff’s ‘True Patriot Love’. In the Financial Post, Terence Corcoran claims that neither Ignatieff nor his late uncle had a real grasp of economics and markets: A true patriot of megaprojects.

Will this latest book endear Ignatieff to the Canadian public? Will he successfully convince them that his days as a rootless cosmopolitan are over and that he's finally returned to his roots? Or will they see this as a cynical ploy to gain political power in a country that has not been his for most of his nearly 62 years? Time will tell.

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